News outlining the decline of local journalism in this country has been prolific in the last five years (ironic, right?). The traditional for-profit business model for many local news organizations was no longer profitable. Thousands of news organizations went out of business and many Americans now lived in “news deserts.”
Despite its size, Fort Worth wasn’t immune to this national trend and several years ago a group of local civic and business leaders began discussing the need and looking at other models. This group commissioned audience research and focus groups that ultimately validated the need and desire for more substantial local coverage of government, arts, education, business and health.
In order to sustain such coverage, a nonprofit news model was launched with seed funding from The Burnett Foundation. The Fort Worth Report is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that relies on a broad base of charitable support from individuals, foundations, and businesses to deliver more substantive local news coverage.
“By supporting our nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization, donors can help us tell local stories that would otherwise go untold. These are stories that hold government officials accountable, fairly report the facts about issues that affect us all, and connect our splintered communities. Strong local journalism gives our community members the facts they need to become more informed, engaged and empowered, making Tarrant County a better place for all of us, ” says The Fort Worth Report Publisher and CEO, Chris Cobbler.
The Fort Worth Report’s board of directors includes several local business and civic leaders, including co-chair Wes Turner, former publisher of the Star-Telegram; co-chair Bill Meadows, a longtime civic and business leader; John Lumpkin, former director of the TCU journalism school; entrepreneur Jonathan Morris of Hotel Dryce; and Rachel Navejar Phillips, a marketing executive.
The Fort Worth Report has a three-year plan to expand their newsroom to 22 staff, including 18 reporters and editors by 2022. To achieve this, the organization will need to raise approximately $2 million each year after its first year of operation.
Having launched just a few months ago, The Fort Worth Report now joins the philanthropic funding game with all of us.
Disclosure: Barbara Clark-Galupi is a member of the volunteer Community Advisory Council for the Fort Worth Report.